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Faith leaders explore political polarization

Five bishops and regional church leaders will join in a panel discussion on “Framing Faithful Discourse for the Common Good” for the 2018 Eastern Washington Legislative Conference, from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 27, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 316 E. 24th Ave. in Spokane.

Elise DeGooyer, co-director of the Faith Action Network, will moderate the panelists as they explore the involvement of faith communities in public policy in these chaotic, divisive times.

“How can we help people move past the intractable paralysis of government and polarized political opinions?  How can we engage in conversations and faithful responses that help us move from hate, fear and power plays?” are among the questions they will discuss.

Panelists are the Rev. Walter Kendricks, president of the Spokane Ministers’ Fellowship; the Rev. Sandy Messick, regional minister and president for the Northwest Region Disciples of Christ; Bishop Gretchen Rehberg of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane; the Rev. Gregg Sealey, Inland District United Methodist superintendent, and Bishop Emeritus William Skylstad of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane.

There will be two workshop sessions with seven workshops:

• “Environmental Legislative Priorities for State and Region” will be led by Jessica Zimmerle and Tom Soeldner. both of Earth Ministry.  Tom is also with the Sierra Club.

• “Impacts of Mass Incarceration on Communities of Color” will be presented by Kurtis Robinson, Devon Wilson and Layne Pavey, who represent NAACP Spokane, Smart Justice Spokane and I Did the Time.

• “Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline” leaders are Jeanne Baynes of EWU/NAACP, James Mohr of WSU/NAACP, Doreen Keller of Whitworth and Pavel Shlossberg of Gonzaga.

• “Challenges of and Responses to Homelessness” will be addressed by Nadine Van Stone of Catholic Charities Spokane.

• “Challenges of and Responses to Affordable Housing” is the focus of a workshop led by Terri Anderson of the Tenants Union of Washington and Kay Murano of the Spokane Low-Income Housing Consortium.

• “Doctrine of Discovery and Implications for Issues for Northwest Tribes Today” is a workshop led by David Hacker of Between the Ridges in Yakima and a representative of the Upper Columbia United Tribes.

• “Faithful Response to Hate” will be a dialogue with Kristine Hoover of Gonzaga’s Hate Studies Institute, Walter Kendricks of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church and Aaron Henderson, civil rights professional for 30 years, and moderated by Jim CastroLang of the Faith Action Network Board.

After lunch prepared by Transitions’ New Leaf Bakery, there will be legislative briefings on issues before the 2018 Washington State Legislature.  They will be led by Paul Benz, co-director of the Faith Action Network and Donna Christensen, lobbyist for the Washington State Catholic Conference.

Admir Rasic and Rasheed Bellamy, who are part of Spokane’s Muslim community, will lead an opening prayer.

Courtney Stange-Tregear, minister of church vitality for the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ, will offer closing reflections.

There will be displays with resources from more than 20 area agencies.  There is time to view them during breaks and lunch.

The event is presented by The Fig Tree, Catholic Charities Spokane, the Faith Action Network, the Inland District of the United Methodist Church, the NAACP Spokane and the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.

Those attending are asked to RSVP and give a suggested donation of $20.  For groups of five or more the suggested donation is $15 each.  Scholarships are available.

The organizing team includes The Fig Tree, Catholic Charities of Spokane, the Faith Action Network of Washington, the Inland District of the Pacific Northwest United Methodist Conference and NAACP Spokane.

For information, call 535-1813, 535-4112 or email

Copyright © January 2018 - The Fig Tree